There’s a lot of confusion about what is ADD and ADHD. Before we begin with the differences, let’s learn the definition first. ADD stands for attention deficit disorder while ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. We should keep in mind that the name has changed. In the past few years, the DSM-5 has made some changes. While ADDD used to define people that were inattentive and ADHD defined as people that were hyperactive, that is no longer the case. The DSM-5 now states that ADHD is the only medically accepted term that defines people with this disorder, whether they represent physical hyperactivity or not.
You do not have to have physical hyperactivity in order to have ADHD, physical being the keyword here. You could have internal hyperactivity. People with inattentive type ADHD often report that they are unable to regulate their attention, unable to regulate where their thoughts go and how fast they are going. That would describe internal hyperactivity. You don’t have to be bouncing off the walls and fidgeting with something to be classified as hyperactive. So, in short, ADD is not a thing anymore. Anyone that has a disorder has ADHD not ADD. However, ADHD has 3 different subtypes, those are:
- Hyperactive-impulsive (ADHD-HI)
- Inattentive (ADHD-PI)
- Combined (ADHD-C)
Hyperactive Impulsive Type
This is the type that neurotypicals will often think of when they think of ADHD. This type is more easily spotted in children and that’s why people who are diagnosed with ADHD early on in their childhood are more likely to be hyperactive-impulsive type over the inattentive or the combined type. People with the other types usually don’t get diagnosed until later in their lives. People with hyperactive type are often described by others as if they were driven by a motor. They have a ridiculously tough time staying seated when they need to be staying seated if they are in an airplane or at the movies, or in class, it is impossible for them to sit this long. They feel like they need to get up.
People with this type are going to move quite a lot while they are sitting still. They are going to fidget with things, they are going to mess with their hair and their fingernails, and they are going to play with their clothes, just became they can’t sit still. As people with hyperactive types get older, these types of symptoms lessen, and they are more likely to do things like interrupt other people and talk a lot. They are going to be impulsive with other things, whether it is physically or verbally.
This type usually isn’t diagnosed until late adolescence or adulthood. The diagnosis usually comes around when the person gets into college or high school or a job that demands their focus and attention and they realize they are aging with extreme difficulties with it. So, people with the inattentive type, while they may not be physically hyperactive, they are internally hyperactive. They have a challenging time paying attention to things. They could go into something knowing that they must pay attention and give themselves a little pep talk but completely zone out during the actual work. These people also zone out during conversations.
These people also struggle with being organized. Remembering essential information or meetings or appointments. These people misplace and lose a lot of their belonging, their keys, their phone, their debit card, or their homework. Then of course their working memories are terrible. Working memory is the one that you use when you are doing things.
These people are going to display characteristics from the inattentive type and the hyperactive type. When you go to the doctor’s office or the psychiatrist’s office to get diagnosed with ADHD, they often give you a questionnaire. This questionnaire includes specific questions, and you must rank them with never, rarely, sometimes, often, or something of this order. The statements won’t be labelled as inattentive or hyperactive, but about held of them will belong to hyperactive and then the other half to inattentive. We would like you to note that we are not doctors or giving a professional opinion by any chance. This type of information is readily available on the internet and various clinic sites. We are simply proving you with information to make it easier for you to understand the difference between the two things.
Six is the substantial number here. If you have at least 6 hyperactive-impulsive types of traits or symptoms or characteristics, then you likely have that type. The same goes for if you have an attentive type. The combined type is a little trickier to get diagnosed with. You must present six traits from the inattentive and six traits from the hyperactive-impulsive type.
But at the end of the day when you get an ADHD diagnosis, the treatment and the medication stay the same. You get the same options for the treatment. So, from a diagnostic and medical point of view, ADHD is ADHD, and it can be hyperactive or inattentive, or combined. But it’s important to identify which type you have for yourself. They manifest differently and come with different struggles. The more you understand your type of ADHD; then you can better understand how to cope with the things that you struggle with.